Book Review: The Circle

The CircleWhen we first started Pure Family Gold, we had some people ask us why we would want to share all of our personal stories and financial trials and tribulations with everyone.  Some thought we were putting too much information online while others loved that we were being transparent and telling the “reality.”

One reader felt that we needed to be careful and suggested that I read “The Circle” by Dave Eggers which talks about the dangers of social media.  Seeing as we are trying to be frugal, I decided to try and check out the book from our local library and unfortunately it took over a month to get the book… and only the Kindle version.

However, once I downloaded the book, I couldn’t put it down.  This wonderfully written book introduces you to the life of a young woman who begins working a new job for the new “it” company.  This company has its own campus, sports fields, dormitory, child care center, cafes and more.  Throughout the book, the reader is introduced to new technologies and programs that are designed and introduced within days of the idea being formulated.

While the Circle is a fictional company, there are many parallels to the current technology and social media boom happening in the United States.  The Circle buys ideas and their creators to bring them into the Circle and expand their “stronghold” on the average Circle user.  This fictional company encourages utilizing the services at all times and one of the companies biggest slogans is “secrets are lies and privacy is theft.”

For me, this fictional book really puts my own social media use into question.  Am I relying on the newest technologies and social media too much?  To what extent are companies and individuals relying on these services too much? Are we telling too much about our lives by advertising everything on our blogs, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Foursquare, and more?

Or is the new way of life?  Are jobs going to not hire individuals if they do not use social media to interact with customers and clients?  Will you be able to apply for a job without uploading your LinkedIn profile?  Are you going to lose friends for not interacting with them within the minute you receive their message on Facebook?

While this book struck some fear for me and made me do a double take on what I post, I believe that there has to be a happy middle ground.  Do people need to know every little detail about the PFG family online?  No.  Should we post all of our pictures or activities on social media? No.  Should we continue to share information that might be useful to other young families and allows for conversations to form.  Yes, but we will do it in a thoughtful way.  We will not post articles just because we want to but articles that have true value to our readers.

The Circle, while fictional, really does an amazing job of portraying what the future could look like if people do not protect their privacy, use all social media, and become too connected.  I would highly encourage people to read this book… but read it with caution.  Some of the situations are way too far over the top and unrealistic.

In addition to the Circle, there has been a viral video that has also made me look at how connected I am and how I need to begin unplugging more.  For those that don’t know, I have unplugged from email, Facebook, and Twitter for over the last year on Friday night to Saturday night.  But this viral video by Gary Turk has shown me the importance of unplugging from our phones and “Look Up.”

I will begin doing this by turning off my work email on my phone and Ipad, leaving my phone in its charger during dinners, leaving my phone in the car during meetings, and I will continue to evaluate how to continue being present with those I am interacting with.

What ways would you “Look Up” and do you believe that our society is becoming too connected?

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